Manchester United moved into the European spots for the first time since September on Saturday afternoon, as they beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad.
The game was end-to-end from the first whistle, with both sides looking to strike first in the derby. Daniel James forced Ederson into a strong save after a nicely worked attack, before Jesse Lingard was denied the opening goal only by the Brazilian's sweeping leg.
VAR didn't take long to intervene, awarding Manchester United a penalty for a foul on Marcus Rashford. The Englishman stepped up to take the spot kick he won, sending Ederson the wrong way and coolly slotting it home to give the Red Devils a deserved lead.
United doubled their advantage just shy of the half hour mark thanks to Anthony Martial's strike. The Frenchman exchanged passes with James and worked his way into the box, striking his shot in off the post as the visitors assumed comfortable control at the Etihad.
Manchester City finally pulled one back with five minutes to go through Nicolas Otamendi's towering header. Riyad Mahrez sent a delightful ball in from a corner, and the substitute defender rose highest to head it past David de Gea to give the Citizens a lifeline. They didn't, ultimately, grasp it.
Key Talking Point
With Liverpool extending their lead over Leicester at the top to 11 points earlier in the day, Manchester City simply had to win to stand any chance of staying competitive in the title race. They started well and came up the other end with some decent chances, but some poor rash defending at the other end was what cost them and saw them go into the break two goals down.
City's defending was shocking throughout the game, and John Stones going off injured didn't help. They were better in the second half and had a number of real chances, scoring a deserved consolation late on. However it was not enough for the Citizens, who were defeated despite their best efforts after the break.
Manchester City's defending was underwhelming and ultimately cost them, and while they attacked well in periods they were wasteful with their efforts on goal. This defeat could be the one that costs Pep Guardiola's side a third consecutive Premier League title, in a bitterly painful derby defeat.
Starting XI: Ederson (6); Walker (6), Stones (5), Fernandinho (5), Angelino (5); Rodrigo (6), D.Silva (6), De Bruyne (7*); B.Silva (5), Jesus (5), Sterling (6).
Substitutes: Otamendi (7), Mahrez (7), Gundogan (N/A).
STAR MAN - Any creativity Manchester City had came through Kevin de Bruyne, who worked tirelessly to get something out of the game. The Belgian delivered a string of crucial crosses and was key in his passing and movement, though it wasn't enough for the Citizens to get a result.
Key Talking Point
Manchester United were looking to make it two huge wins from two, having beaten Tottenham 2-1 midweek. They were fantastic right from kickoff and looked the better side straight away, testing Ederson a number of times. They deservedly took the lead soon after, gaining firm control of the match overall.
United's second gave them breathing space and a solid lead, and while they maintained their strength in attack it was their actions in defence that saw the game out. The Red Devils defended fearlessly and remained solid at the back, seeing out a crucial win thanks to their excellent defending.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were superb all afternoon long, completely dominating their city rivals and earning a massive victory at the Etihad. United can be proud of their performance and confident going into the rest of December, continuing their push for the top four.
Starting XI: De Gea (6); Wan-Bissaka (7), Maguire (6), Lindelof (7*), Shaw (6); McTominay (6), Fred (6); James (7), Lingard (6), Rashford (7); Martial (7).
Substitutes: Pereira (6), Young (N/A), Tuanzebe (N/A).
STAR MAN - Manchester United's defensive display was critical in earning the win, and Victor Lindelof was the overall key to that. The Swede threw himself in front of every ball, blocked every shot and won multiple tackles, in an excellent performance against one of the league's best attacks.
Victor Lindelof, put some respect on his name — Isiah Madrigal (@Realisiah1) December 7, 2019
Both sides are in European action midweek, having already secured their berths in the knockout stages. Manchester City travel to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League next Wednesday, before going to London to play struggling Arsenal at the Emirates on 15th December.
Manchester United are at Old Trafford twice in four days next week, starting with the visit of AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday. The Red Devils are back in Premier League action on 15th December, when they host Everton